The co-op route to effectiveness; cunning Keith Weed

09 Jul 2018  |  Dominic Mills 
The co-op route to effectiveness; cunning Keith Weed

As campaigns have become multi-dimensional, true effectiveness has turned into a more holistic concept, writes Dominic Mills. Plus: why Keith Weed’s offer to Sorrell isn't as generous as it looks

There’s an interesting piece by MediaLink’s Nick Manning on how change is driving consolidation and co-operation across the piste here.

As he shows, the evidence is all around. It takes different forms, but one surprising place to find it is in the shortlist, announced last week, for the 2018 IPA Effectiveness Awards.

Historically, entries have usually been the province of one agency - normally the lead creative, but more so in recent years from media agencies. In a sense, this was to be expected. Entering is seriously hard work, the prizes are prestigious, and nobody really wanted to share the glory - publicly at least.

But this is changing. Of the 38 entries on the shortlist - which you can see here - just under a third are joint efforts.

It’s not that hard to figure out what’s driving the change. As campaigns have become multi-dimensional, true effectiveness has become a more holistic concept. Different agencies will have contributed to different parts of the campaign and those different parts not only need to be acknowledged but scored. Hence the need for a more co-operative, collegiate, approach.

Thus we have Mother teaming up with Carat on Baileys, and with Vizeum on IKEA; Mediacom and Krow on DFS; VCCP and Wavemaker on the Nationwide; Karmarama and Mediacom on the British Army (thus possibly half a scalp for Accenture to claim); adam&eveDDB and Carat for the AA; Lucky Generals and Goodstuff for Yorkshire Tea; and a Lidl entry from TBWA\London and Starcom.

But there’s another type of co-operation, or at least an overt, acknowledged one, that is new to me. That is between the agency and an effectiveness specialist or, in the case of the entry for 32Red, a solus effort by M.I. Media, an outfit new to me. We can also see Ebiquity involved in joint efforts with Direct Line (no agency involved) and with BBH for Weetabix.

I have no doubt they and their like have made contributions before, but most likely in a back-of-house or a last-minute-check manner. But their involvement this time round marks a step forward.

Of course, I suspect their public sharing of the entry may also have some impact on the judges since it is potentially an explicit guarantee of rigour. They might think: ‘Well, if Ebiquity has put its name to this entry, it must be pretty damn thorough’.

The new co-op spirit apart, the shortlist also throws up some other trends.

First, while the agencies that have historically done well at the awards - adam&eveDDB, JWT, BBH, AMV and so on - continue to perform well, so too are the media agencies with an effectiveness legacy: Mediacom, MGOMD, Vizeum, Wavemaker (MEC as was) and so on.

But there are also some new kids on the block. This time round, the media players are joined by Goodstuff and the7stars, the latter in a solus capacity for Suzuki, as well as regional outfit Bray Leino.

Second, as I’ve written before, the digital pure-plays are conspicuous by their absence. I wrote about this before and got trolled. But it hasn’t changed, which is a bit odd since the one thing digital agencies talk up is their accountability. So I’m not sure why.

I can think of three explanations: one, their work tends to be siloed so proving its effectiveness in a wider context is hard; two, mainstream agencies have stolen their ground; or three, they lack an institutionalised effectiveness culture.

Third, what is with the German supermarkets? Aldi is in twice, Lidl once. They are clearly seriously and publicly committed to effectiveness but in a way which belies their otherwise obsessive secretiveness.

Perhaps they like winning prizes as much as the next client.

Or perhaps they like sticking a finger up at their competitors, none of whom have made it to the shortlist.

Keith Weed’s offer to Sorrell: not quite as generous as it looks

As the furore about Sir Martin Sorrell’s fight for Media Monks with WPP intensifies, Unilever CMO Keith Weed chipped in with an apparently helpful offer, as reported by The Times.

“Martin has just announced what he is doing,” Weed said, “so I’ll wait to see what it is. But as far as I am concerned, I’ll work with the best in any market.”

It’s probably about as far as he can go with a public endorsement, and no doubt it was well received.

But it’s not quite as generous as it looks. As the chief executive of a one-time start-up, but now-established, agency told me, he too received a similar commitment from a blue-chip advertiser. It was a small and unloved brand worth diddly-squat, but it was better than nothing.

For a start-up, such offers make a huge difference. It gives confidence, some money to pay the bills, and the opportunity to get some work out while the buzz is still hot.

But look at it the other way. From the client’s perspective, it gets a bargain in the form of an agency prepared to throw everything and everybody at the task for bugger-all risk.

And one other thing: it blocks the agency from taking on the competition. Generous, but cunning.

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